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Look at the pretty flowers! Now, look at them closely. They
are different colors and different shapes. They have
different scents. The differences we are going to notice
today are the way they are arranged on the stems. This
arrangement is called "inflorescence" (pronounced "in-floor-
ess-enss"). We see that the California Poppy, our state
flower, grows one blossom at the very tip of the stalk
(stem). Dandelions bloom that way, also. Some kinds of
daisies have a main stalk with a blossom at the very top, and
along the main stem (or stalk), smaller stalks grow, with
leaves in the same arrangement as on the main stalk, and
blossoms at the very end.

Geraniums grow a straight stalk, which is really called a
"peduncle" (pronounced "ped-ung-k'l"), from the main stalk,
and then a cluster of buds grows out of the very end of the
peduncle. Flowers bloom, one from each bud.

Delphiniums blooms are in spikes. That means the flowers
grow out from the main stalk, one above the other. The first
flowers to bloom are closer to the ground than the later
ones. The blossoms at the very top are the newest ones.

Some plants will grow peduncles out from the main stalk,
leaves and flowers will grow along the peduncle, and then
smaller stems called "pedicels" (pro-nounced "ped-i-sells")
will grow ot from the peduncle. Each pedicel will support
one flower.

Often, very large flowers bloom alone and smaller flowers
grow in some kind of cluster, so that there are many flowers
together. One of the jobs a flower has to do is to attract
birds and insects to it for pollination. Since one very
small flower would not be big enough or bright enough to
attract an insect or bird, the very small flowers bloom in
clusters so they will be easy to find. Some flowers attract
by their colors, and some attract by their fragrance.

There are eight different basic types of inflorescences. A
good project would be to collect samples of as many types as
you can find, and try to decide why the flowers are arranged
on their stems in the particular way you see them.

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